Labor party-list pushes wage recovery increase of P150 in workers' daily pay

Cristina Chi - Philstar.com
Labor party-list pushes wage recovery increase of P150 in workers' daily pay
Commuters ride a packed jeepney in Marikina City on the first day of implementation of loosened pandemic restrictions under Alert Level 1 on Monday, March 1, 2022. Under this status, Public utility vehicles are allowed to operate with 100% capacity.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — A party-list representative for labor unions has filed a bill seeking to provide an across-the-board nationwide wage recovery increase of P150 in the daily salary of workers and employees in the private sector. 

House Bill No. 7871, or the Wage Recovery Act of 2023, aims to address the decline in the real value of workers' wages caused by surging inflation without waiting for regional wage boards to act on petitions for pay increases.

Criticizing regional wage boards for their inaction in helping workers make ends meet, Rep. Raymond Mendoza (Trade Union Congress of the Philippines party-list) said that "workers can no longer afford to wait for [them] to act."

"Since late last year, TUCP was already calling on the wage boards to address the steady decline in the real value of wages due to surging inflation, but TUCP's call fell on deaf ears," Mendoza said.

"Unfortunately, it seems that workers will be left with an empty bag as the wage boards are taking their sweet time in the face of increasing hunger," Mendoza added. 

The P150 increase in daily wages is meant to address Filipinos' decreased purchasing power based on February 2023 consumer price index figures, which range from P555 to P89 according to region, the bill stated. 

Beyond the lost purchasing power, the bill said that the P150 wage recovery increase is necessary given the absence of a substantial wage increase since the Wage Rationalization Act was 1989.

RELATED: Pro-labor pivot would help pitch Philippines to investors — TUCP

Wage boards performance 'less than stellar'

The bill’s explanatory note also said the measure was filed "with the awareness that the historic record of the regional wage boards has been less than stellar."

None of the pay increases greenlighted by regional wage boards raised pay based on the "steady rise of the country's gross domestic product and labor productivity through the years," the bill noted. 

To help micro and small enterprises adhere to the proposed measure, the bill also proposes wage recovery subsidies for small businesses to be sourced from annual appropriations of the Department of Labor and Employment, according to TUCP. 

The bill, however, is "merely a wage recovery effort" and "does not preclude the filing of wage hike petitions through the regional wage boards," TUCP added.  

Several other measures that push for an increase in workers’ minimum wage to help them cope with soaring prices are pending in the House and the Senate.

RELATED: P750 hike in daily wages for private sector workers sought | Zubiri seeks P150 nationwide minimum wage hike

A Philstar.com analysis of workers' wages from the IBON Foundation and the National Wages and Productivity Commission in March shows that across all regions, there is an average of P730-gap between the minimum daily wage and the estimated family living wage -- or the household income needed for decent living standards.

After consecutive price increases since 2022, inflation decelerated in March to 7.6% year-on-year, slower compared to the 8.6% year-on-year reading in February.  with reports by Ramon Royandoyan

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